On Behalf of Some Irishmen not Followers of Tradition by George William Russell
THEY call us aliens, we are told, Because our wayward visions stray From that dim banner they unfold, The dreams of worn-out yesterday. The sum of all the past is theirs, The creeds, the deeds, the fame, the name, Whose death-created glory flares And dims the spark of living flame. They weave the necromancer’s spell, And burst the graves where martyrs slept, Their ancient story to retell, Renewing tears the dead have wept. And they would have us join their dirge, This worship of an extinct fire In which they drift beyond the verge Where races all outworn expire. The worship of the dead is not A worship that our hearts allow, Though every famous shade were wrought With woven thorns above the brow. We fling our answer back in scorn: “We are less children of this clime Than of some nation yet unborn Or empire in the womb of time. We hold the Ireland in the heart More than the land our eyes have seen, And love the goal for which we start More than the tale of what has been.” The generations as they rise May live the life men lived before, Still hold the thought once held as wise, Go in and out by the same door. We leave the easy peace it brings: The few we are shall still unite In fealty to unseen kings Or unimaginable light. We would no Irish sign efface, But yet our lips would gladlier hail The firstborn of the Coming Race Than the last splendour of the Gael. No blazoned banner we unfold— One charge alone we give to youth, Against the sceptred myth to hold The golden heresy of truth.